Trader Joe's, a popular gourmet grocery, has quietly taken multiple steps to open its first store in Lexington.
A notice published this week in the classified section of the Herald-Leader stated that the company intends to apply for liquor licenses no later than July 11 for a store on Nicholasville Road at the former Joe's Crab Shack.
According to the city, a development plan has been submitted and approved by city planners for the Crab Shack site. The plan does not specifically name Trader Joe's, but city planners were told it was a national grocer that is not presently in the Lexington market, said Chris King, Lexington's director of planning.
A representative with NAI Isaac commercial real estate, which represents the property, could not be reached, nor could a spokeswoman for California-based Trader Joe's.
The development plan calls for more than 12,000 square feet of retail space in one building and an attached 3,038-square-foot building.
That's in line with what grocery stores often do locally to comply with a state law that prohibits groceries from selling wine and spirits. Chains Kroger and Meijer have smaller stores next to their grocery stores that sell only wine and spirits. Among the most well-known products of Trader Joe's is its Two Buck Chuck line of wine.
The site would have fewer than 90 parking spaces and would be accessible from Nicholasville Road. The developers also plan to add a connection to nearby East Lowry Lane, King said.
If the deal comes together, it would be Kentucky's second Trader Joe's. The chain announced recently that it will soon open a store in Louisville at 4600 Shelbyville Road. That store's existence also was first disclosed through a liquor license notice in The Courier-Journal newspaper. The nearest location of the chain already in operation is in Cincinnati, at 7788 Montgomery Road.
Trader Joe's, which is known for many private labels, has long been the object of desire for many Lexington residents, area developer Tim Haymaker said.
"People have wanted them out here forever," the Beaumont Centre developer said. "We know there's demand for Trader Joe's.
"All you have to do is look at the success of The Fresh Market in town, and see what Trader Joe's saw in looking at how well they've done."